“We are young/ We are free/ Anyone know a better place to be?/ Takin’ it easy/ My baby and me….”
So goes the deceptively mellow opening theme song of Survival Run. In this one, teenager Chip (Vincent Van Patten) and his five best friends take off for the weekend. When their van breaks down in the middle of the desert, they light a campfire, sing a song, and have sex.
Takin’ it easy, my baby and me.
When they later decide to search for help, they stumble across a group of men in the valley. The men are being led by Peter Graves, who tosses one of the teens a beer and says, “This’ll put hair on your chest, kid.” The kid looks down at his chest, says, “Where’d it go!?,” and then touches him armpits. “There it is!” he says.
We are young, we are free
The men say they’re prospectors but they’re actually drug smugglers. When the same teen who couldn’t find his chest hair is murdered, a fight for survival begins. Despite that killer opening song, Survival Run takes forever to get started, the action scenes are poorly directed, and the teens are too stupid and poorly written to be sympathetic. However, Survival Run does feature Peter Graves and Ray Milland as the two most unlikely drug smugglers in the world. Peter Graves wears a red ascot and an all khaki outfit with rapidly spreading sweat stains. Ray Milland wears a suit while sitting out in the broiling desert. Milland, who was 72 at the time, spends most of the movie sitting. One of the teenage girls thinks he’s intriguing.
When I was growing up in Baltimore, Survival Run used to frequently come on TV in the afternoon. I’m still not sure why but I imagine a lot of fans of the Biography Channel were tricked into tuning into this one, just to watch in shock as Peter Graves killed teenagers in the middle of the desert. Ray Milland did this 35 years after winning an Oscar for The Lost Weekend. As for Vincent Van Patten, he was the Van Patten who didn’t appear in Mel Brooks films or win an Emmy for his work on Boardwalk Empire.
Peter Graves and Ray Milland vs. the least known member of the Van Patten family.
Anyone know a better place to be?